When I go out to eat, or go grocery shopping, or get a muffin on the go, I'm always looking for locally-grown items. It's become a way of life, something I have worked so deeply into the fabric of my psyche that it happens without much prompting or intense cranial usage. It just happens. It wasn't always this way, though. Having tried on any number of dietary protocols (macrobiotic, vegan, raw food, vegetarian, and now, pescetarian), I always maintained strict adherence to whatever the guidelines of the diet were, without paying any real attention to where things were sourced from. Climate concerns have changed my approach. Where something comes from and how it is produced is now just as important to me as how it tastes, if not more so.
Foods locally grown contain higher nutrient counts, as they are allowed to become fully ripe before harvesting. There is therefore a considerably reduced transit distance from farm to consumer, using less petroleum. Then there's the added benefit of direct interaction with a farmer, either via a farmer's market or at a restaurant. They provide you with sustenance (I mean, we've all got to eat, right? Our single greatest common denominator...) and you provide them with a viable livelihood. It's a beautiful reciprocity.
To that end, without intending to, I've ended up living in what is being billed as America's Foodtopian Society. Asheville is hot on the map as a local food destination (check out the foodtopia video). And then there's the most local food of all, food you grow yourself. My humble starter veggie garden this year includes: four types of peppers, pole beans, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, cucumbers, fennel, 4 types of lettuce, carrots, radishes, beets, celeriac, tomatoes and kale. The mustard greens, cabbage and tatsoi aren't fairing so well, a minor sacrifice to the soil inhabitants.
There are also tarragon, marjoram, thyme, sage, chocolate mint, peppermint, rosemary, lavendar, winter tarragon, bay, dill, basil, lemon verbena, parsley and cilantro all happily growing outside. On the fruit front, the crabapples are dropping in abundance, the grapevine is scandalously showing its fruit, I've harvested several strawberries from the 10 newly planted everbearing strawberry plants, and blueberry hill, our affectionately dubbed knob holding 9 plants, is getting bluer by the day. I also suspect there may be a pear tree down the hill about to bear fruit for the first time in years. So, I know that sounds huge, and maybe it is. I have a tendency to truly throw myself into things I'm passionate about. Anyone can grow a few herbs, though, or find a community garden if you're living in a city. Even when I lived in D.C. I managed to grow some beans and tomatoes through a skylight. Anywhere you can find a plot of dirt,there's promise in the soil.